Manx cyclist Mark Cavendish has recorded his first road win of the season.
Just four days after winning the World Track Madison title with Bradley Wiggins, Cav showed why he is regarded as one of the fastest sprint finishers in professional cycling.
He scorched clear of the rest in a chaotic bunch sprint at the end of the 228 kilometre second stage of the Three Days of De Panne in Belgium to take victory by two bike lengths.
For Cavendish, victory in De Panne is a case of history almost repeating itself. In 2007 his first road win also came in Belgium in April - in the Scheldeprijs. This time round though, his first victory has come even earlier.
“It was a really crazy finish, totally lethal.” Cavendish said afterwards. “So many riders from so many teams all over the place made it very complicated. With 400 metres to go I was just behind Robbie McEwen and then 300 to go I got through a gap on the left and just went for it.”
“I’m very pleased to get this first road-race win of 2008 because it’s been quite a long time coming and I’ve had some very near misses. This time, though, luck was on my side, plus I saw the right opportunity in the sprint and I took it.”
“Compared with last year I’m doing a lot better in this race. I was finishing well down on every stage here in De Panne, maybe in the last 40 riders. This win has given me great morale for Scheldeprijs, where I hope to defend my title, and for Ghent-Wevelgem, which I’ll be racing for the first time.”
Today's finale to the event is a 119 kilometre road stage followed by a 13.7km Time Trial.